Celebratory Fire Rattles Syrian New Year Festivities

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Latakia city celebrates
New Year

By Allison Pestotnik
Dubai-(PanOrient News) In the midst of New Year’s Eve celebrations welcoming in 2019, some Syrian cities witnessed heavy fire from gunmen belonging to military and security organizations, an eyewitness reported. The account was backed up by video clips posted online.

As the New Year countdown reached zero, bullets and shells fired from Kalashnikovs and even Dushka heavy machine guns lit up the sky. The echoes of such unconventional fireworks were heard far into the distance and lasted several minutes.

Witnesses reported that frightened locals thought the cannon shells, accompanied by real fireworks, would hit their heads. There were unconfirmed reports of casualties.

Syrian authorities ban such ceremonial fire but the tradition of celebratory shooting remains deeply rooted in Syrian society, especially at weddings. Although some of the New Year’s Eve shooters were arrested on the spot, authorities generally find it hard to contain the widespread practice that has also agonized other Arab countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen.

The proliferation of individual weapons resulting from the civil war that has been raging in Syria since 2011 has made it more difficult to suppress the phenomenon, which has sometimes caused deaths and injuries, turning celebrations into tragedies.

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